Adam Zagoria, Team ReporterPhil Jackson hopes that Derek Fisher’s championship pedigree will encourage Carmelo Anthony to remain with the Knicks going forward.
“I think I’ll have Derek wear all five of his rings the first time he comes in and talks to Carmelo and say this is what we’re working for,” Jackson joked at the press conference introducing Fisher, 39, as the 26th head coach of the Knicks.
Jackson, the owner of 11 of his own championship rings, said he plans to meet with Anthony and his people “in the near future” but doesn’t know if Anthony will opt in or opt out this summer. Anthony has said in the past he plans to test free agency, but Jackson recently suggested to the media that Anthony should consider waiting until 2015 to opt out. The last time Jackson and Anthony are known to have met, Jackson assured the superstar that Steve Kerr would be the Knicks’ coach. Now he has gone to Plan B in Fisher.
“There’s a meeting planned soon and maybe overall we’ll have a better gauge at that point where Carmelo stands,” Fisher said. “He may want the option to be a free agent so I don’t think it’s an indictment on the Knicks that he doesn’t want to be here…He’s never had the experience of being a free agent and he may just want that. Hopefully, Carmelo wants to be right at home with us.”
Anthony can opt out on July 1 and at that point teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets may opt to pursue him.
The Knicks — led by Jackson and Fisher — will have to paint a picture that Anthony can accomplish his goals of winning an NBA championship in New York.
Beginning in 2015, the Knicks will have some $52 million in salary cap space after Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are off the books.
LeBron James could be an option in 2015 and Kevin Durant, Derek Fisher’s former teammate with the Oklahoma City Thunder, becomes a free agent in 2016.
Asked if he had a reading on where Anthony stood at this very moment, Fisher said: “Only Carmelo can answer that question.”
He added that he and Jackson hope to persuade Anthony that by staying with the Knicks he can “achieve greatness.”
With or without Anthony, Fisher said he believes in the Knicks’ roster, the one way that failed to make the playoffs this season.
“I’m also not as down on the roster and the team as some of you in the room are,” he said. “I think there are some things we can do with this team that we can do right now, not years from now.”
But if Anthony does leave, Fisher will have to coach whoever remains on the team.
“It will be his choice…I have to be prepared to coach the players that we ultimately have,” Fisher said. “I would love the opportunity to work closely with Carmelo and we’ll see if it will happen.”